NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A developer is moving forward with plans to construct a 53-unit apartment building comprised entirely of affordable housing.
Boston-based Stirlingside Urban Renewal LLC will proceed with plans for the five-story building after receiving several variances from the Zoning Board on Monday. The building's entrance will be at 50 Neilson St., but it will also be surrounded by Oliver, Abeel and Hassart streets.
Jong Sook Nee, the attorney for the developer, said the plan is to construct the building on two abutting lots. One lot is an empty field enclosed by a chain link fence and the other is a parking lot that is used by residents from the nearby Lord Stirling apartment complex.
The building will consist of nine one-bedroom units, 30 two-bedroom units and 14 three-bedroom units. The building will also have amenities such as a fitness room, a community room, a computer lab, laundry rooms and an outdoor terrace.
Much of Monday night's testimony centered on the issue of parking.
Matthew Seckler, traffic engineer for Stirlingside Urban Renewal, told the board the plan would require 105 parking spaces based on city building standards. The plan presented to the board included 46 parking spots in a covered lot. Three of those spots are to be reserved for Lord Stirling residents.
Representatives of Middlesex Apartments LLC, which owns an apartment building at nearby 54 Hassart St., told the board that those parking plans would be insufficient.
Lee Klein, a traffic expert for Middlesex Apartments, called Stirlingside's parking plan "woefully short."
Klein also pointed out that Seckler's analysis of parking in and around the area was done in July, when the overwhelming majority of students who take classes in nearby Rutgers facilities are on summer vacation.
Eight photos of on-street parking around Neilson Street were presented by a resident who said that parking is so scare that residents often have to double and triple park and sometimes block the lanes designated for cyclists.
Seckler told the board that the parking plan would be adequate.
He said the majority of people typically "living in poverty" - those he said would assumedly live in the 53-unit building - own one car. Often, they don't own a car. Those residents, he said, would utilize local bus and train routes, use bicycles to get around or walk to nearby stores and businesses.
Affordable housing or Mount Laurel housing refers to the New Jersey Fair Housing Act of 1985 which stipulates that a percentage of municipalities' residential construction be available for rent or lease at below-market rates. Municipalities deemed lacking in so-called Mount Laurel Housing - so named for the first municipality the state Supreme Court mandated to implement below-market-rate housing - are periodically assessed a quota of units they must generate.